Marcus Larson / News-Register##Sean Burke will serve as McMinnville High School principal for the year.
Marcus Larson / News-Register##Sean Burke will serve as McMinnville High School principal for the year.
By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Mac High to get new principal for a year

Olsen will help plan and communicate the district’s efforts to win funding for renovation and expansion of the high school and other sorely needed improvements in the district, Superintendent Maryalice Russell said.

“Sean will continue his great work at the high school with Kris as his mentor,” she said.

Burke and Olsen have worked together for well over a decade. Both have been honored at the state level, Burke as assistant principal of the year in 2011-12 and Olsen as principal of the year in 2014-15.

Olsen has served as Mac High principal since 2003, and will return to the school in 2016-17.

A Linfield College graduate, he taught and coached in Amity and Woodburn, served as a middle school principal in McMinnville, then went to South Salem High School before returning to the Grizzlies.

Under his leadership, Russell said, Mac High has made great strides, improving its test scores and graduation rates to among the best in the state; developing small learning communities and career studies programs; and helping students prepare for higher education and earn college credits before receiving diplomas.

Burke, a University of Portland graduate, also has played a role in those successes, particularly college readiness. He has been at Mac High since 1994, initially as a social studies teacher and basketball coach, then as athletic director, and most recently, as assistant principal in charge of curriculum.

When he was named Oregon’s assistant principal of the year, Burke was termed “a quiet leader” who sets high expectations and makes sure they are met. “He brings out the best in everybody,” said Esther Lipke, curriculum secretary.

Olsen’s new position in the district office is part of the efforts to improve facilities to better serve students over the next 20 years or more.

The district’s long-range facilities task force, made up of community members and staff, has recommended remodeling Mac High rather than building a new high school on the west side of town. While the scope of the project has not yet been set, it probably will include creating more career-oriented learning spaces, replacing the west wing with a two-story classroom unit and enlarging the cafeteria.

Administrators and school board members expect to finalize plans for Mac High and districtwide improvements after a phone survey of voters planned in late summer. Then they will set an amount for a bond measure and choose an election date, probably May 2016.

For more information about the facilities plans, call the district office at 503-565-4000.